Posted in Travel Jounal

Day 4 Povoa de Varzim to Esposende – Actually Ofir Beach near Fão

Ofir Beach Portugal

Today I took the A.V.Minho bus line,* to Esposende. It was a 25- minute walk to the PdeV bus station, which in May 2019 has a new station in the process of being built. You pay for your ticket on the bus. They do have change and most fares are by distance, about 2-3 Euros. The bus station is in the town center near Almada Square. The buses do not run on time but it is best to be there for the scheduled stop time. I found using the rometorio app gave me the information that I needed and then I could look at other sites to make sure that I had selected the best route.

Ofir Beach Portugal

The Axis Ofir Beach Resort hotel address is registered, as being situated in Esposende but is in reality located just outside the town of Fão, 3km away from the town center of Esposende, and Ofir beach is an additional 1km walk! A 30 minutes bus ride plus my additional 4km walk and it was hot! That taught me to read the walking notes; even though I was not walking the Camino route, it would have been helpful. Sensible packing of a sunhat and a lightweight shawl protected me from sunburn. I walked to Ofir from Esposende over the Ponte de Fão bridge of the Cávado River, which is part of the Litoral Esposende protected landscapes. I then turned right to walk down to the Axis Ofir Beach Hotel, passing homes, hotels, and apartments, some derelict but ripe for redevelopment.

Ofir Beach Portugal

The area is stunningly beautiful with large sand dunes, pine trees and the wonderful beach for surfers, sunbathers, and swimmers. Fishing in the river as well as forested areas for hiking and biking. At low tide, many rocks become visible; the locals here call them “The Horses of Fão”. Although this was an Axis hotel, the look was, very different. A good walk along the beach and some paddling made for a nice afternoon followed with coffee and my reading time. We had a wonderful meal with wine and a good breakfast the next day so we were very pleased. 

*The Minho Bus Line starts in Porto and goes all the way to Viano do Castelo.

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Posted in Travel Jounal

Day 3 Leaving Porto & starting the Camino Portugués

Povoa de Varzim Portugal
Povoa de Varzim Portugal

You can start walking the Camino from the Cathedral Se in Porto or from Matosinhos, which shaves off 8 km and is easily reached by metro or bus, Matosinhos is a fishing port and beach that the people of Porto visit in droves during the summer for some R&R. The first stop on our route was Povoa de Varzim, (PdeV) and I was delighted to discover that I could take the Porto Metro all the way there. After checking out of the hotel I walked up to São Bento station and took the metro to Trindade on route D – yellow line, where I changed platforms and a moment later bordered route B – red line, taking just over an hour to reach PdeV. The cost was E2.80. It is the last stop on the red line.

Atlantic Ocean

PdeV is a modern resort town with lots of shopping, but it is the magnificent beach, that you will entice you. With golden sands, seashells, and clear waters that extend along the entire length of Povoa de Varzim, I know because I walked it. We were booked in at the Axis Vermar, which was close to the beach and had a pool although too cold to swim. I took another long walk on the beach and collected seashells and took some photos. Back to the hotel for coffee and a sandwich and I relaxed with my book. This hotel is geared to conventions, and conferences and the evening meal here reflected that. This was not a hotel for Camino walkers.

Strong Surf
Posted in Interesting Snippets, Travel Jounal

My Camino Portugués (Portuguese Camino) by Train and Bus from Porto

Porto Portugal

My husband is an avid hiker who has now walked the Camino Francés (French Way) from St Jean-Pied-du-Port to Santiago de Compostela twice. It is the most popular route of all and there are approximately 38 different Caminos according to the Museum of Pilgrimage and Santiago in Santiago de Compostela. The second most popular route is Camino Portugués, which begins in either Lisbon or Porto. John wanted me to come along to take in the sights but I am not a walker so although I could have cycled, I chose to take public transport, check in to the hotel and tour the daily destination. We would usually meet up at the hotel in the late afternoon or early evening. All our accommodation was pre-booked with bed & breakfast and we had daily luggage transfers hotel to hotel with Camino Ways.

Day 1-2 Porto.

After an overnight flight from Canada with a connection in Lisbon that was unfortunately delayed, we arrived in Porto late afternoon at the beginning of May 2019. We were booked into the Hotel Carris Porto Ribeira, which is located on Rua do Infante D. Henrique in the city center just one block from the River Douro. John had also booked taxis for airport transfer arriving and departing, although if you want to save some money, the Porto Metro service is easy and very efficient and the least expensive way into Porto’s city center. It takes about 30 minutes on the purple line and is less than E2.

Ribeira Square Porto

The weather had been calling for rain but as it was dry upon arrived, we decided to explore the area. Ribeira’s historic area is narrow; with cobblestoned streets that have an abundance of small bars and restaurants. (Do make sure you have flat footwear to protect yourself from falling or worse). From the main entrance of the hotel, we turned right and right again walking down to the Douro River, through Praça da Ribeira square, which still has the colorful 18th-century townhouses. We had a much- needed coffee at a local café, a walk by the river before we set out to find a restaurant with tapas and new wines (to us) at Porto 4.

Ponte de D. Luís Bridge

Day 2 The Twin Cities

It may be Portugal but practically everyone speaks English in Porto, so much so that it felt like a suburb of Britain! We had an excellent breakfast at Hotel Carris Porto Ribeira, complete with a glass of sparkling wine, we walked over the Ponte de D. Luís Bridge, which is an impressive two hinged double deck arched bridge from Porto to Gaia to stroll along the riverside on the Avenue de Diogo Leite and visit some of the Port wine cellars, some of which I had never heard of before, known here as caves. These are major tourist attractions offering tours and tastings. Most of the bars and restaurants will offer flights of port usually around 5 different ones too. Here down a side street,  you will find the “Half-Rabbit” This large piece of street art has been created entirely out of garbage complete with a municipal road sign.  Everyone takes a photo!

Half Rabbit Gaia

Another way to view the Port wine area in Vila Nova de Gaia is to take the cable car from the top located in The Jardim do Morro Park. It is near to the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar that offers great views of Porto and is at the top of the cliffs on the southern side of the Douro River. Take the cable car down to Cais de Gaia, on the river bank or vice versa. You can also use the funicular to save walking up or down the hill before crossing over the Ponte de Dom Luis Bridge to Gaia or on your return. These both have fees although it may be worth it for anyone with mobility issues. You can also take a jaunt on the Douro on a Rabelo boat; these were the charming cargo boats traditionally used to transport Port wine from the vineyards to Vila Nova de Gaia. Today, they offer cruises for tourists.

Rabelo on River Douro
Cable Car Gaia

Still, in Gaia, we visited the Monastery of St. Domingos das Donas, there was no charge to tour. There is the church itself entered through a long courtyard, with a well-lit alter, and seating which contrasts with the darker upper floor of choir-high seating set on two levels, in a “U” shape. The ceiling, decorated by 49 oil paintings, represents church themes.

Strolling back, we stopped at the Pink Market for lunch, so called for the reddish pink brick, which is like a big food court with many local specialties to indulge in. For beer drinkers, Super Bock is the Portuguese brand and it is good, also sold in flights, especially on a hot day. We also had the best pink sparkling wine by Mateus, not the original distinctive pink bottle sold everywhere, this Mateus, came in a champagne style bottle, kept in the Sandeman bar and patio. Sandeman appropriately serves a large selection of Port wine cocktails for lighter drinking. On a side note, many of the wines served in the bars, restaurants, and café are Vino Verdi or younger wines, which I do not see in Canada, they are light, refreshing, and very easy to drink. Surprisingly, they are less expensive, even in Euros.

São Bento Railway Station

Back in Porto, we walked up to towards ‘Estação de São Bento’ the railway station where our friend was staying, literally at the station at Passengers hostel. The station entrance hall is well worth a visit as it features over 20,000 tiles commemorating historical events. Another way to see Porto is by Tram, at this time, there are roughly a dozen vintage trams that track the last three tram lines. This is a fun way to see Porto’s cobbled streets in the city center.

Tram in Porto

In search of dinner, we found a restaurant populated by locals. JB was hungry and had the “Francesiha”, an enormous toasted sandwich made with an assortment of ham, veal, steak, sausage, chorizo, cheese, and an egg. It was set in a bowl of a rich sauce made with beer and peri-peri and came with chips/French fries. He ate it all and pronounced it very good. We had lighter, but tasty fare. The pastries are delicious and there is an abundance of them in all the bakeries. Pastel de Nata is Porto’s version of the Pastel de Belem from Lisbon.

Pastel de Nata & coffee

Posted in Ideas Worth Saving, Organizing, Solutions

Top Tip! Ideas Worth Saving – Spice Jar For Sewing Seeds

Organize with what you have! In Lakeshore Ontario
Organize with what you have! In Lakeshore Ontario

The easiest way to sew tiny seeds like lettuce is to use a recycled spice or seasoning jar with a shaker top. Choose the size that works best and just shake along rows in the garden or pots for a balcony or patio. 

Posted in Entertaining & Enjoyment, Ideas Worth Saving, The Recipes

Mum’s Lavender Scones – An Easy Recipe From Her Collection

 

Mum's Lavender Scones
Mum’s Lavender Scones

My mum liked scones and she always was able to remember the weights and measures for pancakes, Yorkshire puddings and scones. I don’t, so, fortunately, she scribbled them down. Here is one that I used last week and was asked for the recipe as they were described as “melt in your mouth”.

Makes about 16 large scones which toast up very nicely on the 2nd day and they can be frozen but in my house, they are gone pretty soon.

  • 4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup of butter or margarine
  • 2 1/3 cups of milk I use 2%
  • 2 tablespoons of edible lavender buds 
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F OR 180 C
  2. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl and stir in sugar. Cut in butter or margarine. I use my KitchenAid on 2nd lowest setting adding the lavender
  3. In a separate bowl whisk eggs well then add milk and whisk again
  4. Now fold the egg & milk into the dry mix until the dough is moistened. Do not overwork.
  5. I use an ice cream scoop to measure dough out onto two parchment lined cookie sheets, approximately 8 scoops per tray
  6. Bake for 20 minutes then turn over scones and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden on both sides. 
  7. Place on rack to cool and serve with jam

 

 

Posted in Ideas Worth Saving, Solutions, Using What You Have

Convert A Shoulder Bag to A Messenger Bag Easily

Style Organization in Windsor
Style Organization in Windsor Ontario

I love the style of messenger bags, hands-free and great for security especially when shopping and travelling but I did not want to buy any more purses/handbags. This practical black shoulder bag had a belt buckle that was usable and as I had a black belt that was not being used I added the belt to make a longer strap. now my shoulder bag has been converted to a messenger bag that I use daily.

If your bag only has a strap but has open metal hardware that links the strap to the bag you can still convert it using a long belt or two (if you don’t have one handy, hit the thrift shops) or use some tough woven strap. Simply sewing them around the hardware with really tough cotton.

Posted in Organizing, Solutions, Using What You Have

Chinese Scissors – It’s a Wrap!

I like these scissors, inexpensive and sharp but I hated the iron smell that lingered, even after washing my hands. I had some binding tape so I covered the handles, no smell and as a bonus, they are more comfortable to use. Simply wrap once around with a couple of stitches to hold in place and then tightly wrap each loop and finally finish with a few more stitches to hold in place.

Posted in Ideas Worth Saving, Interesting Snippets, Organizing, Solutions, Using What You Have

Updating Cold Weather Wear

 
A Pale Scarf to Update in Windsor Ontario
A Pink Scarf Will Update Your Winter Coat Now! 
If you only have one coat the easiest way to make it look different is with a scarf, gloves, and hat in this seasons colours or if you already have a big selection, just rotate them for a constant new look that will make you look current. 
Posted in Organizing

Planuary – A New Start For Me

Planuary Time in Windsor On
Planuary Time in Windsor On

I have always found that Christmas time to be an excellent time to organize. Leading up to 25th December with seasonal decorating forces me to reevaluate what I keep, donate or throw out because it is damaged. Once presents are received I can then update so I can use my new gifts instead of just putting them away.

I also like to think of January as Planuary and use a new calendar to mark any upcoming events and appointments so I don’t miss anything important.